September 24, 1997
Council was called to order on September 24, 1997 at 7:00 p.m. by President of Council Randy Danbury.
The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by the governmental body and those in attendance.
Roll call was taken by Mr. Knox. Present were Council members Boice, Galster, Manis, McNear, Vanover, Wilson and Danbury.
Wayne Shuler of CDS said as we all know, over the last ten years the Kemper Road corridor has experienced substantial growth and development. The City, being proactive in this area and trying to address problems before they get to the point of not being able to effectively handle the traffic, in February authorized CDS to study the corridor from S. R. 747 over to Chesterdale and to make recommendations to the City on improvements that could be made to address the coming traffic growth that is still coming. John Eisenmann is here along with a number of other CDS people who have worked on the study to present that study and the findings to City Council.
John Eisenmann said weíve spent a lot of hours and manpower studying this corridor. The people who have been directly involved in this are Shanthi Krishnan, co-author of the report; John Pagano, traffic engineer who worked extensively on the report; and Don Shvegzda who contributed to a lot of the analysis in the study.
Mr. Eisenmann said the study is a culmination of six months of interviews, data collection, technical analysis and planning. Our goal in this study was to plan for the future of viable access to the East Kemper business community and to provide for the efficient movement of traffic through the corridor. The purpose of the report, which each of you have a copy of, is to provide recommendations for short and long range alternatives, to address large trip generating developments which are planned or anticipated along Kemper Road.
On an average day on East Kemper Road we have approximately 30,000 vehicles traveling along the road. There are about 4.25 million square feet of development already in place in the Tri County area; retail, industrial, office uses. There are new developments anticipated and redevelopments of existing parcels. We are very limited in the options we can consider because of the geographics of the area and the development that has already occurred.
Short term developments that are already occurring or will be occurring in the immediate future that we looked at in the study are the Target Store development, Vineyard Church, Dave & Busterís, McClellanís Lane area and Q-Lube location. Developments when we started the original study considered long term developments are Century Office Park as potential office site; the remainder of the SK warehouse next to Dave & Busterís; new use for Levitz; Swallenís; and the vacant land in front of Copaz as possible outlots for potential restaurants.
Limitations that will affect what options are available are I-275; geographic division between Springdale and Sharonville; Village of Glendale to the south; Oak Hills Cemetery; the Tri County Mall area including Cassinelli Square, Princeton Plaza, the office development in the area; and the railroad track.
In the 1960s the mall was originally developed. In 1980 there was a traffic volume on Kemper Road of 18,400 vehicles per day. Now it is in the range of 30,000 per day. Since 1990 there have been 1.7 million square feet of additional development within that East Kemper Road corridor. There have been 320 accidents since 1994. Since 1986 Tri County Mall expanded including the second level, parking garages and McAlpins. At Princeton Plaza we have Pier 1, Camelot and Borders. There are a lot of new restaurants and office facilities on S. R. 774 south and in the Merchant Street area. Cassinelli Square has been redeveloped. Tri County Commons is all new. On Anchor Associates property are Barnes and Noble, Best Buy and Dickís. Kemper Dodge isnít there. On the east side of Century Boulevard you are missing three major office buildings. There have been a lot of changes in ten years that have affected the traffic in the area.
The short term options we feel can be readily accomplished in three years. As most of you are aware, the agreement with the Anchor Properties site and the Commons Drive area is that those two approaches to Kemper Road will be modified to right in, right out at the time Century Boulevard is extended to the north and connect into the ring road going back behind Dave & Busterís. In order to accommodate that, there is concern as to access into the Best Buy, Dickís, Barnes and Nobles area so one of the recommendations is a connector road between the Best Buy parking lot and the access to Copaz opposite Kemper Commons Drive. That allows that development two signalized access points, one at Kemper Commons and the one currently there via access to Century Boulevard. We have concerns about only providing them with one and thatís why we feel this recommendation is important to get the service drive connected between the two.
Kemper Road is currently three through-lanes westbound and two through-lanes eastbound in the majority of the corridor. One short term recommendation is to provide a third eastbound through-lane between S. R. 747 and Tri County Parkway. The next recommendation is a westbound left turn lane at Kemper Road and S. R. 747. There is currently a single lane at that location that would provide for two left turn lanes. The third is at the intersection of Kemper Road and Century Boulevard. As part of the Target development there are a number of lanes proposed at that intersection but we are looking at additional lanes that are not necessarily due to the Target development but are necessary for long term growth and circulation within the area. There are three additional turn lanes at that location. The last short term improvement is a shuttle bus operating service operating between the various shopping centers during the holiday season. We feel that this is something that can help during the weekend periods. We feel its time is due and itís something that should be given a try to see if it can really help so that we donít have a lot of people driving back and forth between the mall and Cassinelli Square or the mall and Princeton Plaza.
The improvements I just described, the connection between Best Buy and Copaz, the additional lane on Kemper Road would be along the south side of Kemper from S. R. 747 to Tri County Parkway. At the Century Boulevard intersection weíve got three additional lanes. There is a second left turn lane, a right turn only northbound at Century Boulevard and a right turn only lane westbound on Kemper to Century Boulevard.
On the long term improvements Option 1 is a traditional way of addressing congestion within a corridor. We are going to evaluate what additional lanes are needed at each location and build it all to capacity within the existing roadway network on Kemper Road. It basically will address the capacity needs on an interim basis based on what we know or what we expect is going to develop within the corridor. There is no flexibility. If one of the sites weíre looking at has a major change in the type of use that was anticipated, it doesnít address itself to a lot of flexibility.
Some of the concerns we have are that it may still break down during the holiday season; there are no alternative routes for through traffic; it has potential not to relieve all the long term congestion issues and specifically it does not address the intersection of S. R. 747 and Kemper Road other than additional lanes. We are getting to the point where we can only build so many more additional lanes at that location. These improvements are in addition to the short term improvements we talked about. This is not only the third lane in this area between S. R. 747 and Tri County Parkway but an extension of that lane across the railroad through the Kemper Commons Circle, Commons Drive intersections to Century Boulevard. We have a right turn only lane at Tri County Parkway eastbound to southbound. We have an additional right turn lane making a double right northbound on Tri County Parkway approaching Kemper Road. We have an additional left turn lane coming out of the Sears approach at that same location to make a double left turn and we also have an additional westbound left south to Tri County Parkway making that a double left turn. There are quite a few additional lanes that are necessary at the Tri County Parkway/East Kemper Road intersection. At Kemper Commons Circle we have a right turn only lane westbound. In Sharonville we are looking at the need for a third westbound through-lane starting approximately at Lippelman and proceeding through the Chesterdale intersection over to the Century Boulevard area, which would then meet with the existing third westbound through-lane that is already there.
Option 2 not only addresses Kemper Road but it attempts to provide an alternate route through the area. There is a ring road that goes around the Kemper Commons site. We also have a ring road around Tri County Mall starting around the Swallenís intersection on S. R. 747 and heading down to the intersection with East Kemper Road at Sears. The proposal here is to put a tunnel under the railroad connecting the two ring roads in the north end opposite the Lazarus parking garage. There are a number of benefits of doing this. It connects two major retail developments together and it keeps all the traffic that wants to go between the mall and the Kemper Commons area from having to go out on Kemper Road and coming back in. It also provides a ring road that really goes from Century Boulevard if you follow the new Century Boulevard extension, you can cut all the way through and come out on S. R. 747, thereby by-passing the intersection of S. R. 747 and Kemper Road. The other issue is since so much traffic comes from the north from this area, either from the interstate or S. R. 747 out of Butler County, this route also provides a by-pass for this heavily congested area around S. R. 747 and Kemper. There doesnít appear to be any building acquisition that would be involved in this option. There are some issues that go along with this. The connection is entirely on private property. It has the most impact on two major commercial areas. Itís also going to have a major impact on the intersection of S. R. 747 and Swallenís and the north access to the mall. Weíd be really increasing the southbound left turn on S. R. 747 at that location. Itís an area that already experiences very heavy left turn movements. That would do nothing but get larger. Our preliminary thoughts on this are because itís on private property and thereís an underlying title to that property and numerous lease agreements that are in place, there are a lot of approvals that would be necessary in order to bring this to a successful implementation. Because of the grade situation with the tracks the tunnel is the best way to go but itís also pretty restricted. We do not feel that we can accommodate trucks in the design of a tunnel at this location. We feel that preliminarily it will impact the ring road as far as the mall is concerned. It may affect some of their parking and reconfiguration of some of those areas adjacent to the Lazarus garage. It also impacts the detention basis to Tri County Commons. There are still major improvements required to Kemper Road, even if you do this.
As far as the improvements to Kemper Road, we still need the additional third lane from S. R. 747. It could end at Kemper Commons Circle. We have three turn lanes that are necessary at the Tri County Parkway intersection rather than the four we looked at on the last option. Weíd need a right turn only lane at Century Boulevard and we still need the improvements coming through Sharonville on East Kemper Road westbound over to Century Boulevard.
Option 3 is a parallel road system. We are looking at an extension of Tri County Parkway to the east across the railroad tracks, up and over, behind Copaz and the Best Buy/Dickís area, shifting down to an alignment along Century Circle and ultimately through Sharonville to Chester Road. This truly is an alternate route. It extends Tri County Parkway from Northland Boulevard to Chester Road. It connects public streets. It can be a public street. Part of the alignment is on right of way that either exists or is dedicated. Some of the alignment in Sharonville is a paper street so the right of way already exists for a portion of that alignment in Sharonville. One of the nice benefits is that there are multiple public street connections between Kemper and the new road. It can be a by-pass or it can be a feeder to the commercial property along Kemper Road.
On the west side where Tri County Parkway comes in and intersects Northland, as you proceed to the east we already have a connection on McGillard between Kemper and Tri County Parkway. S. R. 747 is already there. You have the old leg of Tri County Parkway, Century Boulevard. In Sharonville you have Lippelman running north and south and Chester Road that connects so there are various ways to connect between the two routes. The roadway itself does not address the high demand of traffic we have coming out of the north. We talked about the I-275/S. R. 747 interchange and the traffic coming out of Butler County. Because this is a south alignment it really doesnít divert any of that traffic away from the Kemper Road corridor. Because of the way it has to come across the railroad tracks, the alignment is probably going to impact the service access to the rear of the Anchor Associates property, the loading docks and delivery area back there. They also have a detention basin on the back side and the alignment would go through their detention basin. There is a substantial amount of right of way that would need to be acquired in order to do this improvement. Itís all from existing businesses within Springdale and Sharonville. Weíre getting outside the city limits so thereís always a concern when you have to really joint venture a project with another community. We had some very conceptual conversations with the City of Sharonville about this and they have not told us that this is not possible at this time so we feel it is a viable alternative as far as they are concerned.
As with the other two options there are improvements to Kemper Road required. However, they are less than what we have looked at in some of the other options. Those improvements at the Tri County Parkway/East Kemper Road intersection are two additional lanes, an additional southbound left and an additional eastbound right. The eastbound third lane still needs to go from S. R. 747 over to the Kemper Commons Circle intersection. There is no need for additional lanes at Century Boulevard and no need for an additional lane on East Kemper Road westbound in Sharonville over to the McClellanís Lane/Century Boulevard area.
The short term improvements are in the range of $1.7 million.
Long term option 1 is $2.7 million.
Long term option 2 is $6 million.
Long term option 3 is $8.5 million.
The long term option costs do not include the short term improvement costs. These are construction costs. They are not total budget costs.
We thought it was important to present a recommendation to you tonight. We do expect considerable discussion about all the options though. Our recommendation is based on a number of facts and our recommendation is option 3, the parallel road system to the south, the overpass of the railroad track and the extension of Tri County Parkway to Chester Road. The reason we are recommending that to the City at this point is that itís a parallel public road system and I emphasize the word public. We feel that is important because it puts the management and control of the project within the authority of the City. It puts the budgeting of the project within the authority of the City. We think that is very important as far as addressing the long term needs of the area. The more players that are involved in a project of this magnitude the more difficult it is to move ahead, reach consensus, to be successful in the long term. We think this is very important from the overall management and implementation of any recommendation. The other thing that this does that option 1 and more so than option 2 is that it truly provides an alternate route for traffic through the area. If any of you have used Tri County Parkway, you have realized the benefit that that really gives to that area over there. We feel that there is still other study that needs to be done and weíd like to talk about the issues that we would like to see considered for further study. A lot of the budget numbers need to be refined based on whatever option is selected. Some of the further study we are recommending be considered is to truly model the traffic within the corridor based on new roadway assignments and alignments. We have estimated what traffic will be in the area and we have assigned it to the roadway according to our best judgment and knowledge of the area. In all honesty there are more technical ways of doing that that could give us a much better picture on how traffic will really circulate through the area when itís all over and done with, so we are recommending that a traffic model be created for whichever alternate is selected. We need to spend more time to evaluate the direct impact on the rear of the Anchor properties, the actual right of way needs need to be fine tuned and really determined. There are a substantial amount of utilities that may be impacted by any of the alternates that need to be studied in more detail. With option 3 the bridge retaining wall limits need to be detailed out. All of these things will allow us to itemize costs better and get a better handle on the construction costs and finally, in order to create a true budget for the project we need to know what the right of way needs are going to be so that right of way costs can be considered, mapping costs, design costs, survey costs, appraisal fees, legal services, all the things that go into a total project to make it successful. We would like to open this up to questions at this point.
Mr. Danbury said Planning Commission is in attendance and I would like to have their input. On option 2 you were suggesting an underpass under the railroad. I was wondering why you would suggest that as opposed to an overpass.
Mr. Eisenmann replied the railroad is elevated in that area in relationship to the parking lot at the mall. Itís actually easier to go under the railroad at that location than it is to go over it and we felt the impact on the mall itself would be substantial, plus there would be no way of any interconnection between the mallís ring road and a bridge going over the railroad at that location.
Mr. Danbury said itís been my experience since Iíve been up here that we will have an underpass on S. R. 747 but with all the geological and other studies, itís really driving up the cost and extending this. It just seems it would be much easier to do an overpass. Also, you mentioned on option 3 that going from Tri County Parkway to Chester Road, that on many parcels of land we already have right of way and thereís a paper road in the Sharonville area. Do you have any idea of what kind of land acquisition costs we might have to absorb on areas that are spoken for?
Mr. Eisenmann responded no, thatís an area that really needs to be studied further.
Mr. Danbury asked how many lanes were you proposing on the new road? I donít want to do this same exercise again in fifteen years. It appears to me that if you build a road that is going to bring people there, there are some spaces that are green spaces or currently are occupied by businesses, it would just lend itself to future commercial development. If we are having 30,000 cars a day on Kemper Road, we may have 30,000 on Tri County Parkway. Has that been considered as well?
Mr. Eisenmann said Tri County Parkway today, east of S. R. 747, has about 8,000 vehicles a day. With that in mind, thatís the range of volume we have been anticipating for the new section of road. We had budgeted for a three lane section of road for the extension over to Chester.
Mr. Danbury said I anticipate that if we have another access road, then weíre going to have more retail along that access road because thatís going to be an alternative and everybody knows this is Tri County. If this option is adopted, has that been taken into consideration?
Mr. Eisenmann said my understanding of the current zoning in that area is that it is general business, office type zoning. To change it to retail use would require a zoning change. The other section of Tri County Parkway certainly hasnít developed retail to date. I think thatís really a Planning issue as far as the City is concerned.
Mr. Danbury continued you said we would expand another lane on Kemper Road. The current bridge going across the railroad track by Sears and Levitz would have to be expanded as well, correct?
Mr. Eisenmann replied a few years ago the City added a westbound lane on the north side of that bridge. A similar thing would have to be done on the south side of the bridge for an eastbound lane. That has been taken into consideration with each of the three options.
Mr. Galster asked would it be possible to find out how much of the traffic in Tri County is jumping across from development to development? If we have 15,000 coming in and 15,000 going out and 30,000 in the middle, I can guess we have 15,000 people jumping from development to development. I ask that because if you look at option 3 that shows the through street, if we donít get cooperation from Sharonville, what is the possibility of stopping it at Tri County Parkway and still including option 2 and creating a loop from Tri County Mall through Roberds and WalMart back across Century Boulevard, back behind Dickís and HQ and back out on S. R. 747?
Mr. Eisenmann said that is one of the things we looked at. We felt we were really getting into a realm of major expenditures. If the Tri County Parkway extension terminates at Century Boulevard, we feel like itís a road to no place. It creates a ring road but there is not a lot of benefit to just taking that road across the railroad tracks and not extending it any further to the east. We saw the benefit being much stronger to take it all the way to Chester Road.
Mr. Galster then said if we look at Tri County Parkway being an extension, the first part of that extension is going through the cemetery which I donít think can be developed for retail. The next part is raised. The only part left is where the church is going and then in Sharonville which we canít control. I donít see a whole lot of retail development with that through street. My next question is more towards Administration. Are there certain options that give us better capabilities to obtain outside funding help? Is option 3 the best way to go to try to get a lot of it funded?
Mr. Osborn responded alternate 3 would be more subject to scoring well in terms of funding applications because it is a publicly controlled facility. I think we have to step back and look at the funding resources that are available for this type of development. Keep in mind that what we are talking about is creating additional capacity. Federal funds for additional capacity projects in this area are extremely limited because of our moderate attainment classification for air quality. There is an air quality model that is maintained by O-K-I. As projects are brought into the pile for consideration their impact on the air quality model is evaluated. A capacity project, by its definition, typically goes against you in terms of funding. We may have to look at other funding such as SCIP which is a state source fund. Alternate 3 might score in that situation. There are other ways of funding that we are looking at. Option 1 is the traditional approach and fundable but with the limitations of capacity. Option 3 is also. Option 2, because we are talking about most of the improvements being on private property, becomes far more complex to try to manage. I had the opportunity to look over the shoulders of the planners as they were working on this and I donít think from the presentation this evening, that we fully appreciate what they mean when they say thereís going to be an impact on the S. R. 747 intersection with the ring road and the current Swallenís entrance. That means, if this tunnel were built, at Day one weíd be at level of service F because we wouldnít be able to handle all the turning movements. We would have to prohibit any turning movements into or out of the Swallenís site. The Swallenís site would have to connect to the Princeton Plaza site and Princeton Plaza Francis Lane would have to become a public street or a quasi-private street ring road and that intersection would be burdened with serving the Swallenís site and the Princeton Plaza site. Thatís the only way that tunnel works. Are any of those costs west of S. R. 747 factored into these expenses you are talking about?
Mr. Eisenmann said no because we hadnít defined the total ramifications on the west side.
Mr. Osborn stated several existing businesses over these would have to come down in order to make the Francis Lane ring road function at the capacity it would have to have in order to accommodate a Swallenís site and a Princeton Plaza site.
Mr. Galster said and then connect it back into the loop to where we have a loop that literally goes around all of it, from Tri County to Swallens, back into Value City, crossing over to McGillard, back into Tri County Parkway. Theoretically you could loop the whole thing together.
Mr. Osborn said maybe I wasnít clear that there would not be any cross traffic at what is now intersection A at the mall over to the Swallenís location. The Swallenís location would be a right in, right out only. Access to all of that property west of S. R. 747 would have to go up to the next traffic signal south to access it so there wouldnít be a clean route around there. This would mean that Francis Lane would probably have to have a signalized access some place along Kemper Road as well, probably involving the Value City property and lining up with McGillard. Those are things we can look at. The idea of a tunnel connecting the two sites with some sort of public thoroughfare really looks attractive until you look at what it does at entrance A to Tri County Mall and Swallenís, and then you realize what impact it has on the west side of the road and the ramifications that result from that.
Mrs. McNear asked on option 3, the $8.5 million, does that include the construction cost of the Sharonville portion of the road?
Mr. Eisenmann replied yes.
Mrs. McNear asked do you have a ball park figure on the right of way acquisition costs, survey design, etc. that havenít been budgeted yet? Does that typically increase your price 25% to 50% of a project?
Mr. Eisenmann replied the right of way costs are the big ticket item. It could be anywhere from 25% up to 50% depending upon the specific routing and specific impact as far as the right of way is concerned and what needs to be addressed there.
Mr. Danbury asked about engineering?
Mr. Eisenmann said engineering fees are probably 8% to 10% of the construction cost and additional for survey and right of way preparation, etc.
Mayor Webster said Mr. Danbury, you are concerned about more retail. I donít think that would come to fruition because most of that roadway is going to be elevated. Once you leave the existing roadway you would have to start a gradual incline to go up and over. There was a question raised about financing. Funds are really drying up in Columbus and Washington, DC, but I think if we presented this in concert with Sharonville and made it more of a regional traffic movement, I think we would stand a better chance of scoring well on what few funds are available. Everybody has jumped on the Crescentville Road project because that is going to move traffic through the region. The same way with the underpass on S. R. 747. I think if we presented this as more of a regional concept of moving traffic throughout northern Hamilton County we may score better and get more funds.
Mrs. Boice said on the right of way acquisition, I realize much of this is on private property, but ultimately it is the Cityís responsibility for the infrastructure and to get people moving. Is any attempt going to be made for donation of right of way? Surely the businesses must realize they have to get the traffic in there and I would like to think they would be willing to step up to the plate and join in this attempt. Is any attempt going to be made for donation of right of way or are we going to go in there and say Springdale is going to do this for you and donít worry about the $20 million cost? Is there going to be any cooperation with the owners of the property?
Mr. Eisenmann replied that is not really something to be addressed as part of the study but I would think there is an opportunity for that.
Mr. Osborn said as projects present themselves we are going to attempt to acquire the right of way that we need for foreseeable improvements whether we build them year one after the new development or year ten. Weíd rather acquire the right of way at that point through donation. It lessens the impact on that user in the future when we do have to expand the road and obviously it saves us the cost of the right of way acquisition at the point when we have some negotiating strength to help in that acquisition. Thatís something we will go after and weíre doing it right now. There are going to be elements of right of way on any of these plans where we will have to go to property owners where weíre going to be affecting existing sites and probably doing damage to residue, where we are limiting the ability of that property owner to use their property the way they have been using it. I can guarantee you, that any of these directions we take, weíll have a little of both.
Mrs. Boice said the shuttle bus service you talked about during the holiday season, who pays for this? Is this something the City is supposed to provide or are the merchants going to provide this? My feeling is the retail people should.
Mayor Webster said I think weíd certainly take donations on that. Weíre trying to get traffic off our roadways so we can move people through there. I donít think it would be uncharacteristic for a municipality to provide a shuttle service.
Mr. Danbury said we did a survey and a large number of residents stated that they would utilize a shuttle bus service. The Mayor and I talked briefly about getting involved with the Chamber of Commerce. I canít speak for them but the idea was thrown out and I would anticipate that all businesses would be open to helping fund something like that.
Mrs. Boice said I agree and Iím sure our residents would be delighted to use that but itís the old story of who picks up the tab on that. Before that goes to shuttling here, there and everywhere Iíd like to know whoís going to pay for it.
Mr. Vanover asked during what period the traffic counts were obtained.
Mr. Eisenmann said all the counts were made in the spring and early summer. We did counts during the noon time period during the week, evening rush hour and also on weekends. We determined the weekend peak was in the range of 12:30 p.m. 2:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
Mr. Vanover replied realistically these counts are what we have out there today but they are not the peak.
Mr. Eisenmann stated these are not holiday counts.
Mr. Vanover said I like the idea of the shuttle service. Mr. Osborn mentioned the effects of the air quality. This might be something that we might be able to acquire some funding for by taking some vehicles off the street. Taking that a step further, thereís not a whole lot of area left to develop a Park and Ride and bring them to a central demarcation point and shuttle them into the complex deeper via the shuttle busses rather than individual traffic.
Mr. Eisenmann responded we did look at a Park and Ride facility but not for the purpose you described. It was more of a regional Park and Ride; come to this location and take a ride outside of Springdale.
Mr. Wilson said on option 2 we talked about the tunnel. How did you arrive at the tunnel versus any other thought. Why not a bridge?
Mr. Eisenmann said we had three options. We had an at grade crossing. We had a tunnel and we had an overpass. We ruled the at grade crossing out for safety reasons. We didnít feel that was appropriate for this location. We ruled the overpass out because, although we could probably tie in with the ring road on the east side, we couldnít provide access to Tri County Mall off of that road. Because of the height weíd have to go over the railroad tracks we couldnít get back down to grade as far as the mall was concerned in order to provide access to their parking facility. We didnít feel that had the benefits that a tunnel would have because the railroad tracks are elevated in relationship to the mallís parking lot. For a minor modification in grade we can go underneath the tracks in a tunnel track situation and still maintain access with the mallís property.
Mr. Wilson asked how many lanes are you talking about for this tunnel?
Mr. Eisenmann replied one lane in each direction. There will be two tunnels parallel to each other.
Mr. Wilson said so in ten years we have to do something else if traffic builds up. We canít expand the tunnel so that means more holes or another route; and weíre not solving the problem at S. R. 747 and Kemper in terms of tractor trailers. Option 3 doesnít appear to solve the problem about traffic from the north coming down. I think the bulk of the traffic is coming from the north/south.
Mr. Eisenmann responded I used to think that. We started looking at the traffic patterns on East Kemper Road and we found that the distribution was pretty evenly balanced. We still have a heavy volume coming from the north but I think because of the congestion that is being experienced along the East Kemper Road corridor and the Tri County area, there is a lot of traffic that enters the Tri County area from a lot of different directions. I think some people divert off the expressway at Mosteller and come in Kemper Road from the east. I think there are a lot of people coming up through Glendale and cutting over Tri County Parkway coming into the mall. Weíre really seeing a balance in traffic approaches to the area, much more so than historically we had ten years ago where everything came off the expressway.
Mr. Wilson said my concern is with Dave & Busterís and whatever goes next to that and the businesses trying to get to that northern section just south of I-275, I would anticipate more traffic going to that location coming off the expressway. How much would we save in vehicle count by going with option 3 and having people come that way and go east to Samís as opposed to Kemper Road?
Mr. Eisenmann said that it is really hard for us to estimate how much traffic is really going to use that. As we indicated right now on Tri County Parkway there are about 8,000 vehicles a day. Weíre looking at it in the same volumes of traffic that would utilize the alignment to Chester and back in, probably in the range of 8,000 to 10,000 vehicles a day.
Mr. Wilson stated this is a lot of money for 8,000 vehicles when weíre dealing with 30,000.
Mr. Eisenmann said if you look at it only from that perspective itís hard to justify those kinds of expenses. The point I would like to make with Council in general, is that ten years ago we had a situation. We thought we had a lot of traffic back then. Since that time 1.7 million additional square feet of development have taken place. Whatís the next ten years going to bring? If we only look at it from the perspective of cost weíre going to continue to funnel all of the traffic on the East Kemper Road corridor. Option 3 gives us a parallel road all the way from Northland all the way to Chester.
Mr. Wilson responded but all things being relative, weíre looking at 8,000 now and 18,000 in ten years. Whatever we have coming from the north is going to increase at the same proportion, is it not?
Mr. Eisenmann said thatís part of the benefit of modeling that. Modeling acknowledges the restraints that are on existing streets. Once we get to capacity on that street then it will start diverting traffic over to the other roadway networks within the area. We canít actually predict how much traffic is going to move over to the parallel road system with all these intermediate connection points that are going to exist between those two. Itís not like you get on this road and you can only go east and west on it. You can go north and south off of it too. You can really feed into the retail area and thatís one of the strong benefits of doing it. Another issue is just for through traffic. Now thereís an alternate route for them to take. There is no alternate route for that through traffic if we continue to just do improvements to Kemper Road. As for emergency vehicle response, if you talk to the Police Department, at Christmas time they canít respond to anything in the mall. They canít get a vehicle in there. They have a squad already stationed in the mall because they know if they get a call, they canít get there. They are in the same traffic jam everybody else is in.
Mr. Osborn said I agree with you on the distribution of traffic. I was surprised to see the numbers. The report indicates that on a Saturday, peak hour traffic, 21% of the traffic comes from the north off I-275 or down S. R. 747. The remaining 79% comes from some other direction. Thereís an expression of level of service in the report with present volume, short term development and long term development in the analysis part. Then in the back there is an appendix on level of service. Is it possible to do a cost benefit analysis to look at the level of service impact of spending $2+ million on option 1 versus $8.5 million on option 3. We know we have to roll in other costs as well. If you are looking at what you predict the level of service to be at the various points on the corridor, what is the cost benefit ratio between 1 and 3? Is that something that can be done?
Mr. Eisenmann replied I think so. Weíd have to look at that in more detail before I could provide you with an answer.
Mr. Osborn responded we have the cost comparisons. Intuitively we can make some decisions about what looks more reasonable but weíre using the level of service to measure the consequence. I think we ought to talk about the level of service after we invest all of this money. We do have detailed analysis under each option but I havenít seen a summary of the consequences on the level of service from these in a comparative type spreadsheet. Itís a little hard to compare these when you have 30 or 40 pages under each option. I would think it would be helpful to look comparatively at the level of services as a result of the various improvements we are talking about and then compare that change to how much money we are proposing for those improvements. As Mr. Wilson pointed out, I hope it would turn out that the way that seems to be the most reasonable for long term solution would also prove to be the most cost beneficial, but we donít know that. I donít know that we have enough information right now to make that judgment but I do think we have enough raw information to take this material another step forward and compare levels of service between the options and make a rough comparison on costs.
Ms. Manis said I donít disagree with your comments that the new road, proposal 3, would definitely benefit the people who live here who know the road and want to get through Tri County. I would think the majority of traffic on Kemper Road are people visiting the retail establishments and I still think there has to be another solution for that side of the City than just expanding Kemper Road another lane.
Mr. Eisenmann said we have really struggled to address that issue. Weíre so locked in with all the new developments that have already taken place and with the railroad tracks that bi-sect the area, that weíre very limited in what options are available.
Ms. Manis said I agree with Mrs. Boice on the cost issues. I think we should take it a step further. I donít know if there is an option for TIFs or assessing businesses. We assess residents for driveways that will benefit the City. It seems like we could assess the businesses for some of their taxes to help pay for it. As Mrs. Boice said, it does affect them as much as it affects us. If nobody can move on Kemper they are not going to go there so I think we should explore every option we can. As far as the traffic model, you had mentioned that when we choose an option we would do one of those. The way you are talking donít you think it would be important to test it on all the options? If you build a road say for option 2 and nobody uses it, then obviously it was not a good option. Option 3, access to Dickís and those stores there, does it severely affect them enough that they would have to change their layout?
Mr. Eisenmann said I donít think itís going to actually affect their loading areas. It may, however, have some effect on truck access and how they get in and out of the area. I think the actual operation of their loading docks and service area is going to be the same because we are not coming through that area with the alignment. We are going south of it. Iím just concerned about the elevation differential between the new road and that area back there and how we can connect the two together.
Ms. Manis said the Kemper Road additional turn lanes at Century Boulevard that you had listed under short term improvements, but you said is long term also, is that itemized under short term improvements or would it be done first or with the long term?
Mr. Eisenmann responded we listed it with short term improvements because we are assuming the Century Boulevard connection will connect with the ring road at Roberds although the Target site plan only calls for it to go to the Target Store property line. There is a gap in-between there that is still missing. Itís part of the master plan but itís not part of the Target construction. It would be a separate issue.
Mr. Danbury said you mentioned before that there is point to point traffic going through Kemper Road without stopping to shop. Do you have any idea how much or is hard to guesstimate?
Mr. Eisenmann replied we did not do any kind of destination studies or anything like that to determine how much traffic is through traffic. I would say that depending on the time of day you will get different mixes. On Saturday afternoon probably a great majority of traffic is shopping traffic. Thatís not necessarily the case at 5:00 p.m. on a week night.
Mr. Danbury asked have you given any consideration as to how the opening of the Allen Road interchange will affect the traffic? I recall Mr. Shuler, when we did a corridor study, I believe it was 50,000 cars move northbound on Rt. 4 from the exit. I believe once Allen Road is opened up, that will alleviate a lot of problems there. I work in Blue Ash and I know coming home the traffic is backed up for miles and miles so you look for alternatives. Crescentville Road is jam packed. Kemper Road is, Sharon Road is. Sharon Road is one you really canít deal with. With Allen Road opening up, do you think the level of traffic we are seeing now is going to decrease significantly?
Mr. Eisenmann replied I donít anticipate a significant decrease. Those are being planned for the new development that is ultimately being planned for that area. The growth that Springdale has experienced in a lot of areas because of the roadway system that is here and the commercial property thatís here, those same things are going to happen in Union Township. There are acres and acres of vacant land just waiting for that interchange to go in before it becomes developed. Maybe early on some of the traffic will divert but ultimately they will be faced with some of the same issues you are faced with.
Mr. Danbury asked if we went with option 1, 2 or 3 how much time do you anticipate it would take to start the bidding process and get funding and complete it?
Mr. Eisenmann replied four or five years for option 1. Assuming the City had the financial wherewithal to do the project, I think option 3 could be accomplished in less than ten years. Option 2 with the tunnel has so many unknowns as far as agreements with private property owners that itís hard to predict.
Mr. Danbury said if we were to look at any of these options it would take some time. How would any type of future development that is before Council today or within the next year affect the road as it is?
Mr. Eisenmann stated the short term recommended improvements are intended to address some of those short term development needs that we already know about. In addition, the improvements along Kemper Road that are part of any one of the options could be incorporated early on in the process even as the longer term planning for a new alignment was still going on. I think there are still options available to the City as far as addressing the development needs along the corridor. Thatís really a matter of economics and how quickly developments come to the surface. Thatís not really something the City has any control over. Thatís in the development end of things.
Mr. Galster said option 2 has been discounted for a lot of reasons but what if we change it a little bit and incorporate it with option 3 in a different way. Letís say option 3 still needs to be done but we want to alleviate some of the traffic between the two developments. Can we, not necessarily make that part of the loop system, but bring it up to a grade to grade interchange with the railroad track with crossing gates, and limit it to between the two developments? Even it we make it one way, weíre taking one trip out. If we can find out how many cars are jumping from development to development and what the cost is to do a simple grade one, not as through traffic but just for relief of Kemper Road traffic.
Mr. Knox asked on option 3, as you go across the railroad tracks you eventually reach Century Circle and we continue east after Century Circle. Has any thought been given to turning south and going down to Glendale which seems to be a more open area and less land acquisition would be involved in it?
Mr. Eisenmann replied no, we have not looked at it at all primarily because of the thought that it does not serve any direct access. Once you hit Glendale itís all residential area. The problem that the City got into years ago when that Century Circle/Century Boulevard area was platted was that there was no opportunity for cross connections into Glendale at that point. Looking at it from a different prospective, as a logical route for a through road, youíd have to come in on Sharon Road, go north, then curve back to the west so itís not really a direct route.
Mr. Knox said as I remember the terrain youíd come out on Glendale right by their sewer treatment plant. It would not be really difficult to acquire land there. Coming across Sharon Road you have to turn north on Chester and then turn west so actually youíd have the same amount of turns.
Mr. Eisenmann replied but itís already an existing commercial area. Thatís the way all the traffic is going now. Itís going up Chester to Kemper and coming into the area so it maintains that same pattern.
Mr. Osborn stated Mrs. Boice and Ms. Manis made some comments about trying to extract additional support or concessions from business. When we talk to a business we try to measure what impact their traffic generation is going to have on our infrastructure. I think itís fair for us to fight tooth and nail to get them to participate to the level of satisfying the need that they are producing. If we start trying to take it where we go to a developer and say to this developer, youíre the last one in so you have to pay for everybody elseís sins, then it gets tough because we are asking him to solve regional problems. I think there is a balance there. Weíre doing that now with Target. We could be asking Target for a lot more than we are asking them for. What we are asking them for represents what we believe to be the traffic that is being generated by their proposed site. At the same time we are also asking them for right of donation for future improvements. Youíll notice there was a distinction made between the turning movement weíre asking Target to make at Century and what we ourselves would spend. We come right along behind them and spend another $900,000. We canít go to Target and ask them to spend that $900,000 on top of what we are already asking them to spend because the traffic that that $900,000 addresses is not Target oriented traffic. Itís traffic that is regional or generated by other sites. I think there are limitations on what we can expect even from developers who are coming before us with a stake. Weíll certainly get as much from those developers as possible but there are going to be practical limitations to what we can do. Immediately east of the Target site, the Richardsí property and McClellanís Lane property, if that land is consolidated and weíre talking to a developer we will go through that same exercise and hopefully not only pick up right of way but pick up improvements to Kemper Road which may address some of the costs weíve talked about here. We have to be reasonable with our demands when we make negotiations.
This eveningís presentation is an overview of a lot of concepts. Its purpose is to
formulate the kind of discussion we are having here tonight. I think what we ought to be evolving towards is reducing the number of options we are looking at. We may need more information to do that. I think we need to take the information that has been presented to us and try to understand it, ask additional questions, maybe generate some additional documentation on levels of service, help us refine some of the issues. We are really here to try to take this basketful of options and start to reduce it down in number and then focus more energy on those. It would be pretty cost prohibitive to do a comprehensive cost analysis on right of ways, for example, for every one of these options. If there are some we can modify or eliminate along the way we ought to try to do that as early as possible. We donít have to come to a conclusion tonight. That wasnít the purpose. It was really to start the process. We should be looking down a path where we start to narrow the options weíre looking at. There are additional steps from here that will have to be taken before we can say with any confidence that weíve made the right choice on how to address this overall issue.
Mr. Vanover asked on option 2, using the existing ring roads and using the tunnels to connect, are these roads designed to handle an increase or are we going to have to look at major renovations on those road structures to withstand the additional traffic?
Mr. Eisenmann replied they are primarily two lane roads. There are sections of the mall ring road that are two lanes in each direction but primarily we are dealing with a two lane road on both ends. Option 2 that we looked at was a two lane tunnel. I think the concept of connecting the two ring roads together is an important concept but I donít think we should look at this as a way of major diversion of traffic. Itís just an alternate route that people can take and itís a way to keep some of that back and forth traffic from getting out onto Kemper Road. To look at it from another perspective I donít think itís a valid way of looking at it.
Mr. Vanover said I agree wholeheartedly with that but we are talking costs and figures. Are we also going to have to expend more dollars to bring the structures up to standard to withstand what weíre going to throw at them. As for the tunnels we all know the exercises weíve gone through just on the environmental impact of the underpass. With option 3 we are talking three lanes. With this elevated roadway what is the potential for future expansion?
Mr. Eisenmann said we really think three lanes are adequate based on the preliminary studies we have done at this time. The bridge over the railroad tracks may not need to be three lanes. Thatís because it is elevated and there would be no driveways off of it so no turning movements are going to occur. With no intersections except remote to that location we donít have capacity issues for that section of road that a signalized intersection creates.
Mr. Vanover asked what do you perceive with the development build out that we have. Obviously we only have x number of square footage of acreage left to develop. At what level will our travel levels max out?
Mr. Eisenmann answered that is not something we have really discussed.
Mrs. Boice said Mr. Osborn, I canít say that I disagree with you that someone coming in should have to pay for the sins of the past, but sometimes thatís the price of doing business. I did want to clarify as weíve been going through this tonight the Target project has come up so often. That is a proposed project and I think at times it may be confusing for those in the audience. It sounds as though the assumption was made that that is finished. We are having a continuing public hearing on that on October 15 and I just wanted to clarify that.
Ms. Manis asked, with the tunnel is it true we have to do all those tests because we are using federal money?
Mr. Eisenmann replied there are some tests that are necessary from a design perspective but not necessarily all the environmental tests that were required for S. R. 747. Many of those were required because of the use of federal funds.
Ms. Manis said I think the point Cecil brought up on option 2 was very important. It would have been nice to have known that ahead of time. I think it actually eliminates option 2 based on what he said. Is there anything with option 3 that is similar that we need to know about?
Mr. Eisenmann stated option 3 really does not address the S. R. 747/Kemper Road intersection. That is a negative to that option. Itís not going to solve the problems at that intersection. It will help divert some traffic away from it but there will still be times when that intersection breaks down.
Ms. Manis said it has been presented that we have traffic problems and it has gotten worse and worse over the ten years as weíve developed but I think if you talk to people in the City that they would think traffic is better today than it was five years ago based on things that you have done, our traffic lights, etc. People move here and live here and they know we have this traffic. We have to look at not spending all our money at once on it. I do think a second access road is a good option for people who live here. I use Tri County Parkway all the time getting from Heritage Hill to the Rec Center. It would benefit me a whole lot but I donít know if it would benefit the mall users. I think we need to evaluate the options a little more and maybe look at combining them. Like Steve said, I like the idea of connecting that somehow although I see now that itís not a solution to the problem but it might help. If Sharonville doesnít go these arenít dead either, are they?
Mr. Eisenmann replied they would definitely need to be re-evaluated. I think that concept of extending it to Chester Road is a very important part of the concept. Without that connection it really changes the way we should look at option 3. In response to Ms. Manis, Mr. Eisenmann said Chesterdale dead ends within that office development. If we go with option 3 we may want to look at the possibility of extending this to the south and connecting it through at that location but itís not anything we have spent any time on to date.
Ms. Manis said itís important about Sharonville because if you are coming Chester to Kemper a lot of times itís backed up and as soon as you get into Springdale it opens up.
Mayor Webster said I think thatís exactly true. As we expand our road system there to try to move more traffic to the east, there is going to be a real incentive for Sharonville to buy into this. If not, weíre going to clog Kemper Road into Sharonville something terrible. I have high hopes that Sharonville will stay interested in this project. John, you made a couple of comments that option 3 would not help the S. R. 747/Kemper Road intersection. Iím a little perplexed because it appears that anyone coming west or south who wants to go to any of those developments on the east side of the railroad would certainly pick up Tri County Parkway and by-pass that intersection altogether. Now, if they pick up Tri County Parkway they still have to come back onto Kemper Road. But if we can give those people a route all the way across the railroad into Century Boulevard and then pick up Century Boulevard into Target, Champion, WalMart, etc., itís another route. Iíd think we would divert all that traffic away from there.
Mr. Eisenmann responded that was probably an oversimplification on my part when I said it wouldnít help it. Yes, it will affect it in different ways. What it doesnít help is the heavy southbound left turn onto Kemper off of S. R. 747. Thatís one of the primary problem movements we experience through that intersection. It certainly affects the east/west movement and it diverts some of that traffic onto Tri County Parkway. But understand, that section of Tri County Parkway already exists so the people coming over Northland already are using Tri County Parkway to get over to the Sears area. We have already diverted traffic around that intersection.
Mayor Webster said Ms. Manis, you raised the question about needing something on the other side of Kemper Road and I agree we certainly do, but I donít see where or how we could ever do that. Option 3 will certainly give somebody the ability to drop off in any of those shopping complexes as they go across there. Youíd have to cross Kemper Road but you would be crossing at Sears or Century Boulevard.
Mr. Osborn said option 3 has a major advantage because it has a few points that a few people have touched on. Kemper Road is very heavily utilized for the retail but it is also utilized by the residents. A number of years ago we took some efforts to have different signalization to redirect some of the traffic going westbound on Kemper Road to go on Northland. I believe we have achieved some success with that and we redirected some of the entrance roads as well. I think there are advantages of extending Tri County. I see option 3 as the best option but I donít like the price. I think this is something we will have to discuss numerous times. I would like to open the floor to any members of the Planning Commission.
Mr. David Okum asked about alternate roadways when ARTIMIS cuts in. I can see the sign on I-275 heading north by Sharonville saying I-275 is blocked, take Kemper Road. None of us knows what ARTIMIS is going to redirect traffic to off the interstate. I know when there is congestion on I-275 currently Kemper Road going west is at a total standstill. I donít know why we have to elevate Tri-County Parkway totally across there eliminating Copaz from access to it. Possibly an alternate would be to bring it over the top, bring it back down and then bring it up again. In that essence, Copaz and their truck traffic would have an alternate means of access. I agree with option 3. I think it is the right way to go. Obviously there are a lot of finances involved in that. I certainly would encourage Sharonville to jump on the bandwagon. I think it would be a true benefit to them. Ms. Manis I agree with you, if that possible interconnect for Chesterdale would be a possibility it would be ideal. When we expanded Tri-County Parkway it was nice to be able to go to the Community Center and go west via Tri-County Parkway. I know a lot of residents in the Heritage Hill area are benefiting from that. Short range we need to do something quick. I compliment Council for moving forward on this.
Mr. Danbury asked what do we do next?
Mr. Osborn said I think there are several areas we need to talk about and one is financing. What resources are available? What creative solutions might we be able to come up with? Weíll continue to work on that. We also need to try to firm up the discussion with Sharonville over their involvement in this. In addition, there is one thing in this study itself that could be addressed a little more closely and that is a summary comparison of level of service. Short term improvements; long term improvements, option 1; long term improvements, option 2; long term improvements option 3. Even if itís not a detailed cost benefit analysis we know what the numbers are. If we can see if there is a dramatic difference in levels of service that would also help us.
Mr. Danbury said I would like to see, if option 3 is what Council chooses, what parcels of land would need to be acquired; what is available now and what would it take. Iíd like to see more finite numbers.
Mr. Danbury asked would everybody be open to more discussion on this in thirty days?
Mr. Vanover said maybe CDS should tell us how soon they can get the additional information to us.
Mr. Shuler said weíll give you a time schedule. Weíd like to get the information in your hands a week before you discuss it. Tonight we just touched on the surface and recommendations. There is so much information here that we didnít have time to go through every assumption and every option we looked at. If you havenít had a chance to go through all of this yet, now with this presentation, if you do that it might generate some additional questions you might have.
Mr. Wilson asked on the short term improvements, are we talking about bus service starting this season? Have we identified a start time?
The answer was no to both questions.
Mr. Danbury said I know people will think of things as soon as they go home tonight. If you have any questions please forward them to the Administration or to Mr. Shuler.
Mr. Osborn said Iíll write a letter to Mr. Shuler summarizing what we are asking him to do and copy Council on it. Right now what I have is: detail out the short term project improvements; refine the budget numbers. We will talk about how we can integrate those into our five year budget. Add an addendum to the report on the comparison of levels of service; a review of some options that may be available for financing the long term projects; continuation of our discussion with Sharonville and a preliminary look at right of way costs at a conceptual level such as option 1 versus option 3. This would be very ball park. We can predict professional services as a percentage of costs. The wild card is the right of way.
Mr. Danbury said I would like to add timetable for each of the options. I know thatís hard to pinpoint.
Mr. Vanover asked Mr. Osborn, would there be a possibility of the bus service this year?
Mr. Osborn replied I donít think so on such short notice. If you look at what Metro did this year, they reduced their till in order to increase bus ridership just to help ridership increase and reduce the emissions. At one point they did receive funding but not to the degree that it covered their costs. We could talk to someone like Metro because they know that business. People are either proponents of mass transit or opponents. I happen to be a proponent but if I drove to Tri-County Mall and I wanted to go to Princeton Plaza would I necessarily wait for a bus to come around, pick me up and fight the same traffic Iím going to fight, let me out at a bus stop with all the packages Iím carrying, etc. I donít know if it would pay dividends. I think we should get a better idea of the potential of somebody actually using that service. We can talk to Mr. Duebber at Tri-County Mall. Maybe they have experience at other facilities around the country. I donít think we could come up with outside funding right now. I think it has to be a joint project of the private sector and Springdale local.
Ms. Manis asked Mr. Danbury, when you say timetable are you talking about after it is approved by Council?
Mr. Danbury replied yes, if we were to just do some of the short term things.
Ms. Manis said I donít see how you can ask them to do anything long term until itís approved by Council.
Mr. Danbury thanked CDS for the report. Itís very well done. You should be commended.
OLD BUSINESS - none
NEW BUSINESS - none
COMMUNICATIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE - none
Council adjourned at 9:20 p.m.
Edward F. Knox
Clerk of Council/Finance Director
Randy Danbury, President of Council